Happy New Years!

Well, it was a crazy 2016 both here and abroad and I, like many, am happy to see it go. Of all the negative things that happened this year, none is more impactful than the deluge of celebrity deaths that defined the year. David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Harper Lee, George Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Pat Conroy, Gary Shandling, Patty Duke, Merle Haggard, Prince, Billy Paul, Muhammad Ali, Gary Marshall, Kenny Baker, Janet Reno, Curtis Hansen, John Glenn, Alan Thicke, Craig Sager, George Michael, and the two most influential for me–Carrie Fisher and Gene Wilder. There are 100 others just as important, that left indelible marks on history.

The sad thing for me is I think 2017 will be equally bad, not because of any silly curse, but because our generation’s front runners, mentors, and role models are all getting older. Plus, we have more of them, from politics to literature to sports to movies. Gone are the days where a few “important” people die every year. With the population increase, it only makes sense that more deaths will follow. One can only hope they live life to the fullest and for as long as possible.

Professionally, 2016 was a good year. Although nothing exceptional happened, I did release the third and final novel in my Robinson Crusoe trilogy and it was very well received. I’ve had a lot of feedback from readers eager to see the story continue on, and to be honest, I have a “European adventure” mapped out, but I’ve actually decided to start something new. Of those few people that I’ve pitched the idea to, all have loved it, and even one wanted to know how many people I’ve shared the idea with in case he/she wanted to pull a D.O.A. scenario (film reference – Dennis Quaid movie). The good news is it’ll be a much quicker project to write (I swears!). I should have the first draft done by the end of January and the final draft a month or two afterward. I’m very eager to see what the future holds with it.

Personally, 2016 was a shocker as well. I’ve lived my entire life in California, but a few months back my wife’s employer offered her an opportunity too good to pass up. Within eight weeks we were loading up the moving truck and shipping out across the great divide for…Minnesota! Locals here (outside Minneapolis) were understandable confused why we wanted to move in just in time for winter. Couple thoughts on that. #1, we wanted to beat the snow, and we did, just barely. #2, we wanted to get the harsh winter out of the way so we could enjoy the state’s other six months. 🙁 And, of course, #3 – her boss said the job’s open now.

So we packed up the cars and hit the road. I wanted to drive through Denver and past Mt. Rushmore, but the fear of snow (and my parents’ insistence) prompted us to drive through Texas, Kansas, Missouri, etc.
Lots of open, flat land. Lots of cheap gas. Lots of Indian casinos. And not much else. Still, we managed to stop at the Grand Canyon and on the corner of Winslow, Arizona.

Yep. Such a fine sight to see.

While we did arrive before the first big snowfall, it was close. And despite being told the last few winters here have been mellow, the first drop was over a foot, and the temperature plummeted to -26. That’s NEGATIVE 26 DEGREES. Cold as hell. Still, the country is beautiful in wintertime and our young sons have loved it so far. My friends all ask me if I regret the move.
I never think that way. We look at it as an adventure. And people live here for a reason. Yes, the snow can be uncomfortable, but it can also be fun, exciting, and a fresh change of pace for someone inured to 70 degrees. So far we’ve walked across frozen lakes, sled down snow hills, thrown snowballs, made ice angels, etc. Lastly, being “stuck inside” isn’t bad when you have a computer and a head full of ideas

So, I have no big resolutions this year outside of helping the kids settle in and writing two novels. A very achievable goal. And I’ve decided not to shave until the first novel is done. I’ve grown a number of goatees over the years, and plenty of five o’clock shadows, but only a few beards. This one has some gray, but it serves the dual purpose of keeping my face warm and making me look ‘authorly.’ It’ll be interesting to see if the wife likes it when I start to look like a Deliverance extra.
Hope all of you are as eager about 2017 as I am. I hope we can move on from political dissension, angry rhetoric, and be productive, healthy and happy.

Be good to yourselves and each other.

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